The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low-income households vulnerable to energy poverty. To date, over 143,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme. In the first six months of 2021, the average value of the energy efficiency measures provided per household was approximately €17,100.
There are currently just over 7,000 homeowners on the Warmer Homes Scheme work programme. The SEAI has advised me that the average wait times for works under the scheme have increased significantly in 2021 due to the extensive COVID-19 related restrictions on construction activity in place between January and mid-April when the scheme was fully paused in line with Government guidelines. This added to the longer wait times that had already arisen due to other COVID-19 related restrictions last year. Wait times have also been negatively impacted by challenges associated with availability and longer lead times for materials.
Budget 2022 has allocated €202 million for residential and community retrofit next year. Over half of this (€109 million) will be used to provide free energy efficiency upgrades to households that are in, or at risk of, energy poverty. It is estimated that over 4,500 upgrades will be provided under SEAI Energy Poverty schemes in 2022.
I have also secured additional resources this year to expand the capacity of the SEAI to deliver the scheme. Overall, SEAI received an additional €2.9 million in budget 2021 which delivered an increase of 30 staff across the organisation and Budget 2022 is providing €3.1m for 30 additional staff in SEAI next year. In addition, delivery capacity in the supply chain has increased due to a new, broader contractor panel that commenced at the end of 2020. Every effort is being made to maximise output since construction activity in the residential sector recommenced in mid-April.